“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world
at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”
Many hotels today claim to be eco-friendly and are consciously aware that some guests are more inclined to book with them if they are outwardly environmentally sustainable. We have seen an increase in eco-lodges, retreats and sustainable alternatives to the normal hotel room is recent years indicating that travellers are becoming more savvy to their surroundings and make decisions based on more than just the look of a place.
The Hotel Inspira Santa Marta in Lisbon is acutely aware of this and from opening back in 2010 is proud of the fact that, from the very start, this was incorporated not only in the ethos of the company but also in the build.
Utilising the old sites of a grand palace and a rundown factory a hotel has been created that considers environmental, ecological and social sustainability for long-term development in all that it does. Yes, there is still a business to run and financial gain is clearly a factor that any company would need to consider but few focus on all these aspects. Whether you are a member of staff, a supplier or a partner in the business everyone is expected to show commitment to this ideal endorsing the company and participating in other ventures to help promote not only the name of the company but also to make the lives of others more rewarding.
So what makes the Hotel Inspira Santa Marta stand out from its competition?
The staff believe that the key to business success is to produce a better environment both inside and outside of the company.
“We are not here merely to make a living . We are here to enrich the world” (Woodrow Wilson)
When wandering into the hotel lobby you are stepping into an urban retreat which uses only environmentally low-impact materials whilst considering the principles of feng-shui. So, not only is it environmentally sustainable but also spiritually inviting. With artwork on the walls created by local children and products for sale by local trades people, economically the Hotel Inspira Santa Marta is also thinking about its place in society.
How has the Hotel Inspira Santa Marta reduced its carbon footprint?
Whilst being environmentally conscious on the external build of this property the owners were also very aware of the functionality inside. With solar panels on the roof, water-saving devices on all taps and showers, dual-flushing toilets, LED lighting, light sensors in all corridors and public areas and key cards that control all energy supplies every little detail has been looked into.
Add to this the fact that they are completely paperless whether you are using the hotel from a personal perspective or using one of the many conference suites, the fact that they only use eco-label and biodegradable products and have their own waste sorting and recycling unit on site all aspects of this business have been thought about.
Does this mean style has been comprised?
No, is the simple answer. The Hotel Inspira Santa Marta competes with all other boutique-style hotels in Lisbon. With an emphasis on feng-shui this building is a full exploration of the senses. Basing each room on this Chinese culture, customers can choose to stay in a room based on either earth, water, fire, metal or wood principles. So whilst some rooms focus on relaxation others focus on creating the right balances in energy. Visitors also have the option of spending time in the Retreat Spa where they can relax both their body and mind with a sauna, steam bath or a Jacuzzi and renew energies through numerous treatments on offer.
The restaurant is an infusion of many flavours on the palate, with only the best foods being acquired. All are locally sourced and menus reflect the seasonal produce available with only organic or fair trade foods used.
“Engaging all Senses” is their motto and they certainly achieve this.
How does the Hotel Inspira Santa Marta maintain its commitment to the environment?
The Green Squad are a group of employees who help to motivate other team members and monitor all green measures for the hotel. They have received specific and on-going training to make sure that the hotel not only sustains but continues to develop. They are tasked with looking into strategies that will help to develop the social, environmental, economical and spiritual growth of the company.
So how does the Hotel Inspira Santa Marta help the wider community?
With several partnerships currently in place the hotel not only helps the local community but also the wider world.
What current projects are they part of?
With the ability to recycle their own glass bottles on site the Hotel Inspira now sells filtered water to all guests and diners at the restaurant in the hope that they can contribute to the construction of water pumps in Africa through the PumpAid organisation.. The success of this project is already evident with two water pumps already being fitted in local Malawi villages.
A national organisation that helps to deliver training to professionals in palliative care. What that means is that they help to train people who need to support those in medical care suffering from serious illnesses. (find out more about Amara here).
This is a local association that helps to support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This is an organisation that helps to support the integration of students in education, supports the transition from regular education into work and provides early interventions in childhood.
A charity that supports children with cancer and their families. By selling photographs and artwork created by children they are able to provide support where required.
Other Local incentives
On top of this the Hotel Inspira Santa Marta has also supported the clean up on their local botanical gardens, supports the Blind Association situated just next door and supported the local homeless charity in a campaign for clothing.
This really is a hotel that cares about more than bottom-line profits. This is a hotel for the community.
To highlight their dedication to environmental and social sustainability the Hotel Inspira Santa Marta has been rewarded with many accolades including certificates from:
An award only assigned to those in the tourism and travel industry. In order to achieve this award you have to meet very strict criteria that look at sustainability management, the environment and social, economic and cultural heritage.
An international award for promotion of sustainable tourism.
Sustainable Development Award
They also hold a Carbon Neutral Certificate, a Travelife Silver Award, have been award an Environmental Sustainability Prize by the Turismo de Portugal and the City of Lisbon has awarded them a Valor Mais certificate for their waste management processes.
This is a company that continues to grow its environmental brand so much so that it is also currently running for both Europe’s and Portugal’s leading Green Hotel in the 2015 World Travel Awards.
For all those travellers conscious of their own carbon footprint this is a hotel that really must be considered when in Lisbon with the boutique style decor being an added bonus.
Are you a person that now chooses accommodation based on environmental factors? Which hotels or eco-lodges would you recommend to others?
Disclaimer: During our recent visit to Lisbon we did receive a complimentary stay at Hotel Inspira Santa Marta but all words and comments are our own. We would especially like to thank Sandra Mencucci for providing us with further details on the hotel’s ‘green’ policies.